30 November 2023

Indie Corner Games

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Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit review

“Dana do you have some coins?” By the way… Dana, do you have some coins for a trip to Europe?

Who has never asked his friends for coins, throw the first rock. Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is the adventure presented by the studio’s hand, Tag of Joy, which unfolds entirely through Point & Click mechanics.

Milda, the main character who lives in Chicago, can come from one of three different professional backgrounds that will be chosen by the player at the beginning of the plot. Even in this aspect of choosing small details of the character, shows all the attention and affection for the main character. This is actually an aspect that at a certain point, can work as a conclusion for a puzzle. The fact that Milda brings with her camera allowing her to photograph all kinds of objects, landscapes, or even people has no direct impact on the story. However, it is also a fundamental piece to a certain extent. Eureka!

It all starts when Milda receives a letter informing her of her grandfather’s disappearance. The letter also informs her that she has inherited her ancestor’s house and has about two weeks to travel to Europe, specifically Lithuania, to demonstrate her interest in keeping the house. Well, so far so good, except for the fact that she doesn’t have the money for this big trip. This is where her best friend Dana comes in. A painter budding to the life of an artist and with ideas of putting her name in the history of Alfred’s gallery. Friendship is a very explored point, or this is not one of the pillars that support the conclusion of all the plot and suspense present in this title. If you listen carefully, you can hear, deep in the background, the music “You got a friend in me”. Or maybe it was just my imagination.

Upon arriving in Lithuania, Milda finds the house turned inside out as if someone was looking for something. “The plot thickens” when Milda discovers a hidden message from her grandfather, for her, about some king, knight, and crowns? Hence the name Crowns and Pawns.

Like any young adult today, Milda will rely on her cell phone to help her unravel this intrigue. All the clues that are discovered will be displayed on her cell phone with the possibility of crossing them to reach the desired objective. This mechanic works quite well, it is only necessary to have bases to support the choices, or to spend a little time testing all the options provided.

Point & Click titles are sometimes frustrating, mostly because of small details that can go unnoticed to the player’s eye, moments of trial and error, or actions that don’t make much sense. Crowns and Pawns is no exception to this rule, but it doesn’t become so frustrating that it makes me lose my hair. I mean, who uses a shovel on a brick floor? Without having any button designated for “hint” the conversation with Joris, her other good friend, can help point the way, without ever presenting how to get to the goal. Leaving all the “dirty” work open to the player.

Definitely, the graphic aspect was also something that drew a lot of attention. A mix of 2D background with characters and small 3D elements transcribe a very pleasant sensation to the eye. It’s a treat to take in the sights of Lithuania’s cities, or through the picturesque alleys of Italy with the much-acclaimed Scooters. It would be wrong to visit Italy and not drive a Vespa, right?

The sound is also a plus, with a varied and satisfying soundtrack. All the characters have excellent voice acting, managing to perfectly convey their personality traits to the listener. The chemistry between characters is hat’s off, even if the interactions are done via cell phone message. They managed to get a few laughs out of me.

This is a small title in terms of story longevity. Of course, each player will have their own pace of solving puzzles, but it is effectively a game with a duration of about 4/5 hours.

Although as previously stated Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is a short title, it is quite fun for fans of the genre. The puzzles are somewhat logical, the characters are quite fun and with enough juice to drink throughout the adventure and the mix between history and fictional intrigue is genuinely captivating. It trapped me and kept me invested until the last second.

“Hey, you reading this review, do you have some coins?”

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Steam provided by Thunderful Publishing]